Failing yoga and finding my own way to relax

During my first year of graduate school  I enrolled in a yoga class to relieve some of the stress. The teacher was fantastic and I definitely felt like it was helping me relax and focus my mind…Then came finals. My hour of yoga was now causing me anxiety knowing I didn’t have that time to study. It was too late to drop the class, so I just stopped going.

Yoga was the only class I ever failed.

Needless to say, relaxation is not always a strength of mine. It seems like something you shouldn’t have to learn. It should be an instinct just like eating is to maintain your energy. But for folks like me, and I know I’m not alone, we have to remind ourselves to slow down, let go, detach.

I haven’t tried yoga again. I’ve tried meditation, albeit not enough. However, I have found a relaxation tool that works for me – doodling. Most nights after I get the kid to bed, I pull out a sketch book and start drawing. No plans, just pen to paper. The more I being to fill the page, the more I get lost in it.

Just like yoga, doodling isn’t a good stress reliever for everyone but we should all have our own yoga equivalent. What’s your yoga? And if it’s actual yoga, good on you.


My yoga

My yoga





A “Mellowy” piece finds a new home

I just submitted two of my paintings to an open call for a local “abstract” show. Open calls always offer a good excuse to create something new and perhaps try a technique or subject out of my comfort zone. I also am a sucker for a deadline. Whether I’m writing a grant proposal at work or creating a painting for a show, I seem to get more creative in crunch time. I suspect there are many like me out there….

Mellowy in its new home

Mellowy in its new home

Actually, it was another open call for an abstract show earlier this year that got me into exploring more abstract subjects. “Mellowy” was born out of my love for old dictionaries.  The word “mellowy” was one of the entries that made it onto the canvas, still visible through the layers of tissue paper and paint. It was a fun piece to do. I think it took me extra time because I got caught up in reading all the words (seriously, “huggermugger?” That’s one I never heard). I recently sold “Mellowy” and am so happy it went to a good home.


Spring Nursery Art Creations, Part One

I work with an amazing group of people – smart, dedicated, thoughtful and all around fun. Two of these amazing people are about to have babies within about six weeks of each other. I wanted to do something special for them,so I decided to create paintings for their new nurseries.

One of my co-workers is having her second little girl. With an idea of her color palette and style in mind, I decided to do something sweet and feminine but perhaps not as typical for a nursery.

"Maisie's Garden" begins to bloom

“Maisie’s Garden” begins to bloom

I had so much fun panting this one – and I think it was a hit with the mama. We’ll see how Maisie likes it when she makes her arrival.

"Maisie's Garden" completed

“Maisie’s Garden” completed

Now I have another few weeks to finish the painting for the other mama-to-be. She’s having a boy and has an adorable retro-jungle animal themed nursery. There’s so many great possibilities here it’s hard to choose! Stay tuned. I’ll share it when I’m done.

The Cosmic Shame

Robot Family drawing I did for a friend

Robot Family drawing I did for a friend

I love my job. It’s challenging daily and stressful often, but I’m lucky to love what I do. However, my one complaint is that it sure gets in the way of creativity. There’s creativity in my job, but not the kind that involves a canvas and brush, which is definitely my preferred outlet. Like a lot of people, I have more ideas than time. It’s just the way it is.

So, how do you resolve that friction within yourself of wanting (and needing) to get your ideas out there when time is just not on your side?

No really….I’m honestly asking here, does anyone know?

When I’m feeling the friction and frustration, there’s a Tenacious D song called Cosmic Shame that often gets stuck in my head.  (I highly advise looking it up on YouTube if you haven’t heard it.) The spoken intro by Jack Black is what always sticks with me:

So, um, if I was just gonna say one thing to y’all tonight
I’d say, set the artist free
I’m talking about this artist in here, set it free
I’m saying, quit your day job

Now, I know a lot of you people here, you’re saying,
I can’t quit my day job, I’ve got kids to feed, Jack, quit your day job
Focus on your craft, one time, before it’s all over
You’ve died, you’ve squandered it, you fuckin’ robots

He’s got a point there. Of course, most of us will never be able to actually quit our day jobs to take that leap of focusing on our craft, but wouldn’t that be the ideal? I know it would for me.

I guess the trick is to find the happy medium between squandering it all away like a robot and leaving your family without food to eat. That seems like a lot of middle ground to embrace really. And maybe it’s good that the friction doesn’t go away. It keeps your creative mind running even if you don’t have the time to touch the brush to the canvas.

So, I’ll keep looking for my happy medium and repeating my mantra of “Good things come to those who work hard.” And when that doesn’t work, I’ll just put on some Tenacious D….

Stay on Target

Lately I keep hearing the voice of  the pilot from that end scene in Star Wars as they near the reactor of the Death Star.

“Stay on Target!” “Stay on Target!”

January started with such renewal and promise. I was so laser focused, balancing the return to work and keeping up with my creative goals. Then by mid-month, work got more hectic, the stomach flu infiltrated our house and I could feel my new year positivity plummeting like so many of those X-Wing Fighters.

But I’m fighting hard to stay positive, reflecting on the things I did accomplish in January despite the chaos. It’s only one month after all. There’s 11 more to go and every day is a chance for renewal. So, if January has you feeling like all your hopes and goals are being shot down, just remember my mantra…


A new painting, inspired by a change of plans

When I was a new parent, one of the hardest things to adjust to was how difficult it was to actually plan things. Wait, that’s not entirely true. I could make plans all day long. It was the keeping plans that was the difficult part.

For instance, last Saturday I planned to spend the day painting while my daughter was at a dance class.  Instead,  I had to deal with a particularly inconsiderate stomach virus that didn’t seem to care that we had plans already.

However, after spending the day refilling cups of Gatorade and keeping watch for potential vomiting, I somehow found energy to paint after my husband and daughter went to bed.

I don’t usually work on large canvases so I decided to challenge myself. I bought the canvas months ago and it just sat there intimidatingly on my easel.  One night I decided to try this abstract piece after a sketch from my journal. I wasn’t digging it.

Large canvas, take one

Large canvas, take one

I decided to start over and go in completely different direction. So, again from a drawing from my journal, I decided to work on an elephant. I find elephants to be such amazing animals – so strong, yet emotional. As I was tearing out pages from a dictionary to cover the canvas, I came across the word “sentry.” I knew that would be the painting’s title.

Elephant herds are unique as they are led by a matriarch. I thought of this matriarch as a sentry keeping watchful eye of her herd. I’m still tinkering with it, but the painting is just about done. I was glad I was able to take back some of my plan that day. Come to think of it, I guess I also acted as sentry that day over my own herd.  

Large canvas, take two. "The Sentry"

Large canvas, take two. “The Sentry”